The Texas statute covering deferred adjudication probation allows a defendant to plead no contest (or even guilty) to certain charges and be placed on a type of probation that, if successfully completed, leaves the defendant without a conviction. Most offenses under Texas law can then be sealed, through the fairly new Motion for Non-Disclosure process.
Unfortunately, this type of probation is completely unavailable for DWI in Texas, even a first time DWI, no collision, no injury, “just a misdemeanor”, and yes, even if the accused “never had a speeding ticket before”.
But wait, there’s more. In Texas, you can receive deferred adjudication probation for offenses as serious as murder – but not first offense Class B misdemeanor DWI. “For murder?”, I hear you ask…
Well, yes, you can. It’s not likely, but I can pose a hypothetical where a person might receive probation for murder…Suppose a 92 year old great grandfather “pulled the plug” so to speak on his 90 year old wife, and all the evidence showed that he did it because he loved her dearly, and couldn’t bear to see her suffer the indignities that old age had heaped upon her.
Now technically, he intentionally took a human life, which is the basic definition of murder, so he could be prosecuted for that. But a felony prosecutor might (I repeat might) consider a plea bargain for deferred probation, figuring that the defendant was not a danger to society, no benefit would come from incarceration, etc. etc.
And while that might be a stretch, my point here is that deferred adjudication probation is available as a potential option in a murder case. But not for plain-jane first offense DWI.
Why is that? Well, the forces behind the ever increasing penalties for “just” a DWI are very powerful, and legislators don’t like to offend certain lobbying groups. There has been no deferred adjudication in Texas for DWI since 1984, and I certainly don’t see things changing on that front any time soon.